One of my favorite quotes is from a book by Neil Anderson, who wrote: “We do not live beyond what we believe.” (Victory over the Darkness) What we believe is shaped by the information we receive. Whoever controls the flow of information controls the culture. As we head into 2021, my challenge both personally and to those who may read this blog is: “Choose to live out of God’s narrative – God’s story.”
What does that mean? Everyday we receive information involving our world. In 2020, Covid, racism, and the election became a socio-political-healthcare tsunami. Information about these events was interpreted and disseminated through every possible means. What emerged was a single predominant narrative that involved what you see, what you hear and what you read. Challenge that narrative and you are branded, marginalized, excluded, or even punished. Freedom of speech has given way to censure or worse. Morality and ethics are relegated to whatever supports that narrative. Fear and control have overtaken the freedoms we once enjoyed as Americans, resulting in anger and despair for many. This narrative, known in Scripture as “the kingdom of this world” is forever changing, forever spinning its version of reality. Its truth is THE truth.
Meanwhile the Scriptures introduce a narrative that is vastly different; a world called the Kingdom of God. The flow of information in this kingdom is anchored in the Word of God. It is based on, and interpreted through the character and will of God; who is the King. Its values are unlike the other kingdom. And unlike the kingdom of this world, God’s kingdom is unshakable and enduring. Peace, joy and hope is the experience of its citizens.
How can we live out of God’s story while living in this world? Here are some practical ways:
– Be aware of what is happening in our world, but immerse yourself in God’s narrative: the Scriptures. Let His Word interpret the world we live in, not visa versa
– Be in constant communication with the King through prayer.
– Shift your primary allegiance to God’s will and God’s ways.
This past November we voted for a candidate we believed would best lead our country, and one whom we believed best represents the values of God’s kingdom. But if we elevated that candidate to God’s anointed, we confused the political realm with the realm of God’s rule. Indeed, black lives matter. But when we endorse a movement whose values oppose the Kingdom of God, we have made an unholy alliance between the two kingdoms. Our mission as believers is not to bring the kingdom of this world into the Kingdom of God. It is to bring the Kingdom of God INTO the kingdom of this world.
Living out of God’s story does not mean hiding our heads in the sand. Instead we are to:
– Love and engage our world. After all, God did.
– Confront and reject whatever does not represent the values and truths within God’s narrative.
Throughout the ages, believers have had to confront the narratives of other cultures which were opposed to the King and His Kingdom. Daniel did, Queen Esther did, Paul did. At the end of his life, Joshua issued a challenge. It was not to the Canaanites. It was to God’s people: Choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
2021 Translation: While you live in this world, live out of God’s story.
In it, but not of it…
P.S. I became a Christian during the Jesus’ movement, which introduced a new narrative to a generation that was seeking to establish its countercultural identity. As it has throughout history, music became a vehicle to present God’s story. One song that impacted me back then was 40 brave soldiers for Jesus, by Tom Green, which details the clash between early Christians and the Roman emperor. While I pray it never comes to this, if it does, may we find grace to take a fervent stand for Jesus